Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Fancy a cuppa?

Firstly I have to thank Mr GG (as he has become fondly known by several of you!) for his regular updates on the blog of late. I apologise for being out of action (or order, depending on how you look at it!) but he has built up quite a fan base it seems in my absence!

As you are quite possibly aware by now, we are officially....

Thankyou to April for the beautifully crafted sign!
Because I have been up since stupid-o-clock this morning and am fit to drop, I thought I would keep it brief and bore you with a few more pics of No.9....

Thankyou to Tessa for the pink gingham bunting above the till! It has had many admiring glances, and one small princess has requested we keep it there for her birthday party in November!

The 'poseur' tables, which have attracted all of the young trendies...

Colouring pencils, books and paper to keep the small people amused.

Some of the paintings and mosaics created by local artists. The idea is that people will buy them all and we can change the decor continuously, to help change the atmosphere.

Heart shaped blackboard from the fabulous Vintage Amethyst!

And one of the absolute best things about the cafe? Having individual heart shaped marmite sachets. How cool?!! Sigh.

I have been incredibly fortunate to meet TWO bloggers this week. The delightful Mr and Mrs Cowboys and Custard arrived on a surprise visit on Monday morning, and we managed to sit and have a coffee together before the mad rush began. Yesterday afternoon the lovely Dragonfly arrived to sample the Hazelnut Latte. It was lovely to meet you all, and thankyou so much for making the trip over to Gloucestershire, I hope you come back again one day!

Dragonfly has also awarded me with this, which is gratefully received, thankyou!

And this, from Petticoat Lane AND Cowboys and Custard. How fabulous! Thankyou so much to you all, ladies, I am incredibly touched that you thought of me. And I thought it pertinent that I put them, next to the shiny teapots...I just need to find a special home for the marmite first though!

I know it's a bit naughty, but rather than forward my awards to any particular bloggers, I am going instead going to award it to all of you, with my grateful thanks for all of your support and warm wishes over the last few difficult months. You have helped far more than you realise.

I think that's probably quite enough to be going on with! I am off for a lovely long snooze...thankyou once again for all of your wonderful comments, well wishes, cards and gifts. It makes all of this even more worthwhile to know that you're interested!


Saturday, 23 August 2008

Cosmopolitan Cotswold Cafe Society

We are open!

Firstly, it's me again, Mr GG.

As will become apparent from this weeks ramble, the girl has been somewhat busy. Above are team No.9 at about 9.30am, completely oblivious of the impending demand for coffee, cakes and lunch. Which henceforth shall be known as 'The Rush'

The first paying customer arrived at 8.40am, and for the record ordered a cappuccino. I know a photo of a cup of coffee really isn't necessary, but it is mighty fine coffee.

In the 'Calm before the storm', the cafe is ready to receive.

The sign writer did a cracking job and with Bloke's hard work, the cafe had been transformed.

The particularly fine weather this morning made our pavement tables irresistable to the 'the ladies who'

Anyway, back to 'The Rush', nobody is sure where it came from and nobody is sure when it started, but when it came team No.9 sprang in to action and stood shoulder to shoulder, resolute and unwavering. Even Connie the cow, who lives over the coffee machine, remained stedfast.

......okay, so that was just an excuse to crowbar in this great photo of a cow!

The most rewarding part of the day was when two ladies who had lunched at No.9, returned in the afternoon for coffee and cake. Repeat business on our first day!

To finish off, I would like to thank everyone who has helped us to get this far and for the cards, gifts (all of which are in the cafe), encouragement and support. I know the girl has found you all a great source of inspiration. A special note to The List Writer, the fabulous aprons will be featuring in a blog of their own shortly!

Garden Girl will return...........

Sunday, 17 August 2008

In my home town

I had better start by way of an introduction, as I am sure that it will soon become apparent, as I do not have her way with words, that I am not Garden Girl. I am for the want of a better description, Mr Garden Girl, you may have spotted my short and irreverent contributions to the comments section as Red.

This is my first foray into blog world, so I thought I would stick to what I know and take you on a tour of our home town as seen on our Sunday Morning constitutional. The first event of our walk was to bump into the girl's folks in Bridge Street. So a well earned breather and cappuccino at Costa’s seemed like the only option, as we had been walking for a good 7 or 8 minutes.

Fully refreshed we set off and headed over the River.

....and then a stroll along the southbank until we reached.......

......The Whale Bone, which is a jaw bone from a Bowhead whale caught in 1820 by the aptly named Andrew Marvel. The stones have been laid to represent the 20m length of the whale.

The next photo opportunity was presented by a group of locals enjoying a civilised game of petanque.

Then we arrive at the scene of my sporting youth, Evesham Rowing Club, where strangely I had a squash membership and for those of you wondering, no, I did not have a rowing membership at the Squash Club.

Having retraced our steps over the river we entered the park and took this picture of the bandstand, please note the people on the bridge….

….to show the difference that just over 12 months makes. The top of the blue bridge is just about visible.

Also in the park is the Bell Tower, which originally formed part of the Abbey built in AD709, and with the exception of some of the boundary walls, the two churches and the Almonary, is pretty much all that survived the Reformation in 1540.

An orginal entrance to the Abbey, which now leads to allotments.

St Lawrences, All Saints and the Bell Tower.

The Almonary, which houses the town's museum.

As we turn towards home, we pass Ye Olde Red Horse, know locally as the Dead Horse, which every year puts on an excellent floral display. For the VE day 50 year celebrations in 2005 the timbers were painted red, white and blue.

The round house was built in the 15th century and is presently houses the local Natwest branch.

What Sunday walk would be complete without a trip to Tesco's? Where we secured the latest Cath Kidston charity shopping bag. The staff thought they had hidden these from view on a closed checkout, how wrong they were.

The girl has just baked a fabulous lemon cake, a recipe supplied by Cowboys and Custard, so it must be time to draw to a close and resume my role as Chief Tasting Officer for Cafe No.9.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of Evesham.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Cake Baking, Tabbouleh Making, Done! (that was my Gordon Ramsey impression. You had to be here)

Frankly I don't think any of you realise quite how hard it is, this running a cafe malarkey. Especially when it isn't even open yet! Well let me tell you, today I had to make yet more cakes. Purely for experimental purposes, of course. I didn't get the slightest bit of pleasure from it, and neither did any members of my family who were forced to eat the results.

The cakes in question are miniature tiramisus. Sort of. Basically you make muffins (or fairy cakes for those of you who intend to use a muffin tin only to find that every single muffin paper case in your posession is actually too big for said muffin tin. Like me then. How weird, surely these muffin paper case makers should be in conversation with the muffin tin makers? Yes??)

Anyway, the tiramisu cream is in fact mascarpone, whipped cream and coffee essence, all mixed together and once the cakes are cool you peel the cases off, slice them horizontally and dribble each slice with instant coffee and then stick them together with blobs of cream mixture. It is very fiddly and time consuming, but also quite therapeutic. I pottered about in the kitchen, listening to the radio, adding to my shopping list as I went and had a cup of tea on the go. All very relaxing.

I haven't actually eaten one yet but lovely husband has assured me his was very nice, although he may well need to try another later just to confirm the fact.

I also made tabbouleh for dinner. Thanks for the recipe Nic! This is bulgher wheat, chopped up spring onions, mint, parsley and cucumber. Drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil. Mmm. I can also confirm that it tastes very good with cold roast chicken.

Eek. Soon I'm going to have to make things for real people who will be paying for it (hopefully!) not too scary then....

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Lunch at Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons

One lovely present that I received for my recent 21st birthday....(oh ok, my 30th birthday) was a fabulous invitation to lunch at Raymond Blancs place in Oxfordshire. My brother Dave, and his wife, Nic, are INCREDIBLY generous and VERY good at thinking up great presents for people, and I am a very lucky girl indeed.

Anyway, Rob and I managed to find a day in our very busy schedules where we could actually enjoy this treat and today was the day...

I am going to bore you with practically every darn photo that I took-sorry! But it's such a beautiful place. The staff were welcoming, attentive, had a sense of humour and such attention to detail.

We were shown into the lounge to start with where we had Gin and Tonics and canapes. They were so beautiful. They had individual leaves on them, tiny bits of gold leaf, probably not the sort of thing we will be serving in the cafe, but very inspiring all the same! They tasted fabulous as well.

This is me after one gin and tonic, mis behaving. I think I was chewing an olive at the time of the photo being taken, just in case you wondered! Either that or I was stifling a giggle at the man braying with laughter in the next room.

Above is delicious smoked salmon which was 'With compliments from zee head chef' so that's nice. Very tasty, and I had to laugh at the small boy on the next table who had an espresso cup of 'zee crab bisque' as his 'special' poor boy, I am convinced he would rather have been tucking into a Happy Meal.

I was VERY excited about this, below. It was the 'Soupe au pistou du Manoir' which roughly translates as Garden vegetable soup with Parmesan Croutons. They brought the bowl out with prettily arranged vegetables in the bottom, such as broad beans, peas, carrots etc. and then poured the soup over the top from a silver jug! Good eh?! I had to hide my 'I'm incredibly impressed' face and just pretend I ate in places like that all the time whilst adopting a lofty expression. Inside I was squealing with excitment at the loveliness of it all though.

Next up was 'Truite, sauce epicee au concombre et wasabi beurre blanc' but for those of us who aren't fluent in french and only just scraped a GCSE ..Shetland sea-trout, samphire, cucumber and wasabi beurre blanc.

This was actually Robs desert, which was 'Fondant au chocolat "Alpaco" glace the jasmin "au Tibet" which roughly translates as chocolate fondant and ice cream! I had Exotic fruit 'Raviole' with kaffir lime leaf and coconut. Yum. The photo of mine didn't come out very well though.

Coffee and petit fours in the gardens...aren't they exquisite? I deliberately zoomed in so you can appreciate the work that has one into them. They didn't last long though. The top left one was a pavlova with basil cream and red currant was as light as a feather and melted in your mouth. Well not your mouth, actually, mine!

The gardens are so beautiful. They do their best to provide all of the vegetables from the gardens for the hotel and restaurant. I was really looking forward to wandering around them as have seen them on television on various gardening programmes and they did not disappoint. I could have spent hours wandering around taking photographs.

The well manicured croquet lawn.... Scattered around the gardens are bronze sculptures by artists Lloyd Le Blanc and Judith Holmes Drewry.

These are the Dancing Cranes, by Lloyd Le Blanc.

And this one is aptly named 'The Reader', sitting quietly under her tree.

'Sarah with her basket' keeping an eye on the vegetable and herb gardens.

There is also a fabulous bronze sculpture of a Scarecrow, but I couldn't get a very good photo of it 'up close' unfortunately.

I think he was my favourite.

We had a lovely time, and hopefully will get to go back again one day. It was a lovely way to remember my 21st (ok, 30th!) birthday, thankyou so much Dave and Nic for a lovely treat. Coffee and waffles on me when you're back in the UK!